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‘People to do, things to see’

Posted: August 8, 2014 8:46 a.m.
Updated: August 11, 2014 6:00 a.m.

If you’re thinking the headline to my column today is a little screwy, you’re right. For many, many years now I thought it was a quote from a funny Christian Slater movie I watched once called “Kuffs” where he talks directly to the audience at times.

Unfortunately, in doing my prerequisite pre-column writing research, I learned that the quote is actually a bit derogatory toward women and that the latter half of the line said “places to see,” not “things.” Oh well, such is memory. Let’s just say I like my version better.

So, today’s column is going to be a bit weird, I’ll warn you now. There’s no one theme, no single subject. It’s going to be all over the map.

Let’s get started!

First, the announcement of a major change here at the C-I. We are no longer capitalizing the word “internet.” See, there? I did it. No capital “I.” Internet, which is capitalized at the beginning of a sentence, has been capitalized for nearly two decades no matter where it appears in a sentence because, by golly, it was the Internet! It was important because -- well -- because it was new and kind of unreal and, holy guacamole, the virtual space connecting the vast array of smaller computer networks across the globe needed a name.

Those of you who have been reading the C-I for a while may have noticed we dropped the capital “W” on the word “website” and its plural, “websites,” a few years ago. We followed the Associated Press stylebook on that one. That may get you thinking, well, why don’t we drop the capitalization of “World Wide Web” or “the Web?” We might just do that, especially since the three W’s stand for something that’s a part of the internet and not the internet itself.

Confused? That’s OK. Just know that we’re not going to call the internet the Internet anymore and you’ll be fine.

We -- OK, I as the editor of this paper -- just feel that the internet is such a ubiquitous part of our lives that we no longer need to call extra attention to it by giving it a capital “I.”

Now let’s talk about an interplanetary ATV that’s broken a major record. Did you know that? Did you know that NASA’s Opportunity rover has, as put it, “boldly gone farther than any vehicle has before on the surface of another world?”

As of July 27, Opportunity has rolled around the Martian surface for 25.01 miles.

“What?” you may ask, “but it’s been up there since 2004! Only 25 miles in 10 years?!”

Yes, and that really is a record. It now takes the lead from the old Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 rover. It traveled 24.2 miles on the moon way back in 1973.

As for Opportunity, please remember that it, and it’s twin rover, Spirit (which gave up the ghost back in 2010) were only supposed to last three months. What troopers!

Back in January, John L. Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported on some of Opportunity’s accomplishments. The biggest: establishing that, in ancient Mars time, habitable environments where liquid water persisted for ages. It continues to explore despite an “arthritic” robotic arm and getting stranded for days at a time when dust storms hit.

For those of you into long distance running, Opportunity is only a mile or so away from completing an off-world marathon (26.2 miles). Go, rover, go!

Hmmm. What’s next? I’ve done “things” (the internet and Opportunity). Let’s do a person. How about that James Spader?

Who would have thought the kid who starred as Brooke Shields’ brother in “Endless Love” way back in 1981 would turn into either “Red” Reddington from TVs “The Blacklist” or Ultron in next year’s Avengers sequel?

Spader’s mostly made his name in movies -- “Pretty in Pink,” “Mannequin,” “Less Than Zero,” “Wall Street,” “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “The Rachel Papers” and -- most notably for a sci-fi geek like me -- the original “Stargate” movie from 1994.

Movie-wise, that’s the one I always remember because he was just so darn earnest playing Daniel Jackson, the character remade famously on TV by Michael Shanks.

Of course, Spader’s made more of a name in TV during the last 15 years, thanks to “The Practice” where he originated the role of Alan Shore, which he then reprised (and won two Emmy Awards) on “Boston Legal.” He is just a trip and Hollywood and America are lucky to have him.

As I mentioned, Spader’ll be playing Ultron, a take-over-the-world android created by Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man from the Avengers. Which brings me to the Marvel cavalcade of movies. Which bring me to “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Have you seen this movie yet? Why not? It’s only the best thing on film since ... well, “Avengers.” Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista are great as the humanoid members of the Guardians, while Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper steal the movie as Groot (a tree; no, really) and Rocket (an enhanced raccoon; no, really).

This movie has everything -- comedy (especially, comedy), epicness and a lot of heart. We can credit director James Gunn and writer Nicole Perlman, but we can also thank the cast for pulling off what is sci-fi cheese at its finest.

So go see it. You’ll feel good afterward. Real good.

And, finally, last but not least, today is Aug. 11, which means it’s time for me to say Happy Birthday, Mom! So ... “Happy Birthday, Mom!”

Yes, she knows I’m silly, even at 49.


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